GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Tennessee Rehabilitation Center (TRC) in Greeneville is offering career help to dozens of area students with different abilities in celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
TRC Greeneville is currently serving 275 students from five Greene County and Greeneville high schools through the Tennessee Department of Human Services’ Pre-Employment Transition Services. That is compared to just 30 students last year.
Cheyenee Floyd, a recent South Greene High School graduate, is a student with the Pre-Employment Transition Services program.
“I pretty much love my job,” she said, “I couldn’t trade it.”
Floyd is currently training at the Quick Stop Market near Camp Creek in Greeneville.
She said she loves interacting with all the people who stop by and making new friends.
“When I’m doing something,” said Floyd, “there’s not a time you can’t catch a smile on my face when I’m doing it.”
Floyd is one of the many high school students with different abilities from 14 to 22 years old being served by TRC Greeneville.
“People with disabilities have skills and they want to be self-sufficient,” said TRC Greeneville Manager Cindy Willhoit. “They want to be able to provide for themselves and just because someone has a disability, doesn’t mean they can’t work.”
Willhoit said a disability is anything that is an impediment to employment that would prevent them from obtaining or maintaining competitive integrated employment.
Her group aims to give those with different abilities the same opportunity for advancement, the same pay as the people they work with and the same opportunity to receive benefits.
“The employer doesn’t always understand what a disability is and they are automatically thinking about safety,” said Willhoit.
TRC offers counseling guidance, vocational evaluations and training assistance through its Pre-Employment Transition services.
This year, TRC Greeneville is serving more students because of partnerships with local businesses, as well as Greeneville and Greene County schools.
Andy Franklin with the Transition School to Work program works closely with TRC.
“These kids can do a lot more than people think they can,” said Franklin, “we just got to give them an opportunity to do it.”
Floyd hopes that one day, her training with Quick Stop will turn into a full-employment opportunity.
“Just like you and I,” said Willhoit, “we live to get up everyday and go to work, I cannot imagine not having a job.”
The only other TRC in the Tri-Cities in our area is Carter County.
Leaders from all 17 TRC locations across the state will meet in Smyrna Thursday to discuss how they can improve services for students with disabilities going forward.